TV wars intensify as LG unveils 8K OLED and gaming-focused 4K sets

LG has introduced the first 8K OLED televisions — and its smallest 4K OLED — at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas, shaking up its television lineup for 2020 while also detailing improvements to its homegrown webOS TV software.

The stunning 8K resolution OLEDs, referred to as the ZX Signature series, will only be available in 88-inch and 77-inch screen sizes. So far 8K televisions have all been LCD, but the OLED models offer colours that are very bright and an overall image that is extremely sharp.

LG’s new 8K OLED TVs go up to an enormous 88 inches.

Viewing LG's native 8K nature demo content up close, you can tell there is detail in the image that wouldn't necessarily be discernible at 4K. The value of an 8K television viewed at a normal viewing distance is still debatable right now, but should become more obvious when the content eventually catches up.

It's also worth noting that LG's 8K OLEDs surpass the industry benchmark for 8K Ultra HD certification; a dig at arch-rival Samsung's 2020 lineup of 8K TVs which just barely meet the spec.

The rollable OLED display that stunned showgoers at last year's CES, but never ended up going on sale, will be making its way to retailers in 2020 though it's uncertain at this stage whether it will land on our shores. No price has been announced yet, but a ballpark figure of $US40,000 ($58,000) has been doing the rounds.

This year LG is also introducing a new GX Gallery series, an alternative to the ultrathin wallpaper OLED TVs the company has been selling for the last two years. While those paper-thin screens (dubbed "WX" for 2020) shift all of their inputs and processing to an external box that doubles as a soundbar, the GX model is for those who want a cleaner look and use their own sound system. The components are all back behind the TV, but it's still only 20mm thick. LG includes a proprietary wall mount so that the TV can hang flat on your wall like a picture frame without leaving any noticeable gap. The GX-Series will be available this year in 55-, 65- and 77-inch versions.

The GX series has all its components in the TV unit, but still hangs flush on the wall.

Elsewhere a new 48-inch 4K model has a pixel density similar to a 96-inch 8K television, which is something that desktop PC users who normally sit close up are likely to appreciate. Sadly there's no DisplayPort but HDMI 2.1 is onboard, so when the likes of Nvidia and AMD finally release graphics cards with a HDMI 2.1 port you'll be able to game in 4K at up to 120Hz with HDR.

Also of interest for gamers, LG's 2020 OLEDs are the first to support Nvidia's G-SYNC variable refresh rate for buttery smooth gameplay, as well as being the first TVs to support HGiG Mode. The standard was developed by the HDR Gaming Interest Group that comprises key players from the gaming industry — including both Microsoft and Sony  — to ensure that games are displayed as the game creator intended on HDR screens without overdoing the effect.

With a 4K OLED small enough for a desktop, plus G-SYNC and HGiG on 12 models, LG is going after gamers.

Speaking of creator's intent, LG is also supporting 'Filmmaker Mode'; a one-click setting that disables motion smoothing and ensures movies are played back in the correct colour, aspect ratio and framerate. This feature will also be available on 2020 models from Panasonic.

LG's smart TV software, webOS, will get some significant updates for 2020 as well. The Apple TV app which was previously exclusive to Samsung smart TVs will be making its way to LG models going back to 2018, allowing users to watch Apple TV+ as well as access their iTunes video library. The Apple TV app will also be arriving on Sony televisions this year.

The author travelled to Las Vegas courtesy of LG.

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